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Is Bathing During a Thunderstorm Safe?

7/16/2021 (Permalink)

Did your mother used to tell you that you should avoid bathing or showering during a lightning storm because there was a chance that you could get electrocuted?

As a child, this kind of warning was terrifying. As an adult, it has the ring of an old wives’ tale. But is there any truth to it?

As it turns out, yes: there’s a real possibility that you could be electrocuted if you take a shower during an electrical storm. Our source? The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/15/health/15real.html

As the NYT writes, and as every graduate of fourth-grade science class knows, both metal pipes and water are extremely conductive of electricity. While your house was likely built with some kind of mechanism for channeling the electricity from a lightning strike into the ground, it’s not always perfect. According to Ron Holle of NOAA, between 10 and 20 people every year get electrocuted while bathing, using faucets or handling appliances during storms.

So if you take a shower, is it likely that you’ll be electrocuted? Probably not. But there is a chance.

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